A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Battle for Endor – Guest Commentary from Jim Wheat

Here’s a treat for our tens of readers: We have commentary from the writers and directors of The Battle for Endor. First from my uncle Jim-

Making this movie was certainly the highlight of our career. George turned over the keys to his kingdom and pretty much let us do what we wanted. We also got to work with some of the most talented people around.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. We were working with minors in three of the four main parts, so scheduling was a nightmare. We pretty much lost the kids about an hour after lunch, so filling the day took some doing. We worked with a camera double for Cindel, so much of the time over-the-shoulder shots and long shots are not Aubree, but a look-a-like.

The other teenager on the set was Nikki Botelho, who played Teek. The plan was to create a mechanical creature to be operated by a team of puppeteers. After the first day of shooting with the puppet, it became clear that it just wasn’t going to work. But there was Nikki, who was playing an ewok, and who wasn’t very much bigger than the mechanical Teek. So while we quickly rearranged the schedule, the creature team spent a long weekend and created a costume for Nikki with just a smiling mask. A few days later they had an articulated head that could be controlled by puppeteers made the ears move, the eyebrows rise, and the smile broaden. Nikki was a great performer and really brought the costume to life.

Most of the guys who played the marauders were basketball players, who were challenged to a game by the ewoks… but with little people rules (the ball has to bounce off the ground before you can rebound). I’m pretty sure the ewoks won.

All of the actors put up with a lot. The costumes were hot and awkward, and after a long day of shooting were dripping with sweat. One day Michael Jackson came to visit the set and he LOVED the ewoks. The only problem was that he insisted that the ewoks kept their heads on between takes so as not to break the illusion of cute little furry creatures playing in the forest. It was pretty cruel to make the actors wear their headgear any longer than necessary, but super stars are super stars.

We spent the most time with George in the editing room. That’s where George believes movies are made, and he would come in and chop away at the film. As the picture kept getting shorter and shorter, we started to worry that it wouldn’t fulfill the requirements of ABC. But George wasn’t concerned. “You’ll come up with something.” The producer, unbeknownst to us, had built a ‘George Factor’ into the budget. An additional two weeks of shooting. It was decided that we would shoot a new sequence involving a dragon and an ewok hang glider. The next day, Joe Johnston came in with the storyboards and we got busy building a cave set. What had originally been an easy escape into the forest became a cliffhanging adventure for Wicket and Cindel.

May 12, 2010 - Posted by | guest commentary | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Boy do I love having background dirt on a movie, and oh, we have dirt on this one. How? Well, Andy’s uncles wrote and directed it, which is awesome. So we emailed them and asked if they’d mind giving us some comments. They both emailed us back and gave us some great information. Like how the original script came in and was totally unworkable, so they scrapped it and rewrote it with a week to go before casting. And then there was the basketball game between the actors playing the marauders and the actors playing the Ewoks (pretty sure the Ewoks won). But despite stuff like the script problem and some editing worries and only having the minor actors and actresses (including three of the four leads) for half the day and Michael Jackson visiting the set it seems they had a great deal of fun making the movie. Andy’s posted their emails in separate entries and I highly recommend going and reading them here (Ken Wheat) and here (Jim Wheat). […]

    Pingback by Movie 72 – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor « A and A's Movie A Day | May 12, 2010 | Reply

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